Port Henry, Essex County
Builder of Champ & Ice Fishing Shanties
Earl Sprague made images of Lake Champlain’s very own legendary monster ‟Champ” since the early 1960s, when he built a float for a chamber of commerce water parade in the lake. Over the years, travelers past Sprague’s home and woodworking shop on the main road into Port Henry have seen Champ — that 27-foot-long smiling green plywood serpent — dominating the landscape. Many a visitor and resident have taken home smaller versions to grace their own gardens or lawns. When asked how many Champs he has made over 40 years, Sprague responded, “I really couldn’t say, lots, probably hundreds.” Ice shanties are another of his specialties. For decades, anyone who wanted one built or repaired in the vicinity of Port Henry — a community known for its seasonal villages of these tiny buildings on the thick ice of Champlain — knew to head to the shanty yard behind Sprague’s house overlooking Bulwagga Bay.